The Series Project: Fast & Furious (Part 1)
2 Fast 2 Furious (dir. John Singleton, 2003)
Yes, the John Singleton behind Boyz n the Hood.
This is the only film in the series to not feature Vin Diesel. To catch up on the story: at the end of The Fast, Brian O'Conner revealed that he was a cop, and there was a spectacular chase to stop a high-speed truck robbery. In the mix, Brian managed to chase Dom Toretto away, getting the drop on him. Brian, however, having grown to care for Dom, lets him go. In 2 Fast, Brian is now under heat from his bosses for that. In order to clear his name and get back into the law's good graces, he must essentially go undercover again and infiltrate another criminals mastermind's organization, again posing as a high-stakes car racer. Oh yes, and Brian no longer seems to be a Fed. Now he's just a regular cop.
The last film took place in the streets of L.A., mostly in the scummier parts of The Valley. 2 Fast takes place in Florida, meaning more bikinis, more flesh, more neon, and a general sense of aesthetic excess. Most of the cast is not repeated, and Vin Diesel's presence has been replaced by the wise-cracking energy of Tyrese Gibson, whom I suspect may be clinically insane. But in a fun way. I kind of love the over-the-top dynamics beginning to manifest. Everything is bigger and louder in this film (as is the case with most sequels) and it only works to the film's advantage. Devon Aoki, James Remar, and Ludacris all appear. The babe is played by Eva Mendes (a sexy lateral move from Jordana Brewster). The villain is played by a snarling Cole Hauser.
Another piece of weird fun: This film is sprinkled with homoerotic undertones. The relationship between Brian and Roman Pearce (Tyrese) is borderline flirty, and there are a lot of accidental double entendres about woman. “How could you have interest in a woman?” There's some wrestling and a lot of filial jealousy. There are many shirtless males in this one too. Indeed, the gay pride on the series should be addressed. There are several gay and lesbian actors in this series, and it only aggrandizes them. Even Vin Diesel was thought to be gay or at least bi at one point (although those rumors have been put to rest in interviews). This is another facet of the series' multi-culti appeal.
And, not to be outdone by a mere car chase, the climax of 2 Fast 2 Furious (and that title still makes me giggle) features no fewer than a hundred cars all leading cops astray and causing general mayhem. Don't think about how the heroes managed to wrangle that many cars in such short notice, and manage to get them into that one particular garage just in time to have those cope there at that particular moment. Sometimes action films need to be illogical to be fun. And 2 Fast 2 Furious is so over-the-top, logic would only hurt it. It's a dumb film that makes you cheer. I'm kind of sorry I missed this one in theaters.
The Rules of Part Threes is still in effect…